One thing that really makes life more meaningful and productive is…. Checklists! No matter how your day is going, if you’ve created a list of tasks to complete, regardless of how big or small they are – you’ll feel satisfaction at the end of the day when you can tick them off as achieved.
From my own experience, if I have a day off and I want to dedicate it to washing, cleaning, groceries (all those mundane life activities) if I have a checklist, I am reminded to do them and usually have it completed much earlier in the day. This then allows more time for freedom and relaxation later in the evening.
While I do have a great love of checklists, there is some caution to be made. What I have found, for myself anyway, is when a list is too unrealistic, too big, too difficult or not attainable – failure can set it. This opens the floodgates for frustration, defeat, feelings of incompetence and/or the thought of being a non achiever.
To effectively dodge these curve-balls, here is some advice I’ve found to be useful:
1. Be concise, yet specific.
You want to know what you are achieving but don’t want to be too detailed you turn yourself off the task. Be clear of the end result and work towards achieving it. If it is a list for what you want to achieve in the day, I always keep mine dot point specific, e.g morning meditation, yoga, breakfast, work, groceries, relax and bath, prep for dinner, blogging, evening chill out. If it is a checklist for the week, say a meal plan, I would detail the recipe names and days that I will use them e.g,
Breakfast: Glass of lemon water with apple cider vinegar, Rhubarb and blueberry smoothie, bulletproof coffee
Brunch: Carrot sticks and homemade hummus
Lunch: Kale and red cabbage salad
Dinner: Pea and parsnip soup
If it is a checklist for a task that has multiple steps and it will need to be completed over various days, I suggest being more specific, e.g. writing what exactly needs to be done on each day and linking from one task to the next. You should see a progression and know what is to come next in the sequence.
An analogy presented by T. Harv Eker about organisation and goal setting which I’ve found to be useful is the idea of planning based on priority of events. He makes reference to trying to fit rocks, sand and water into a vase and how it is only possible when done in a specific order. The thought is if we try to fill a vase by putting water, then sand and gravel, there won’t be any space for the big rocks – big rocks being big goals. If, however, we place the big rocks first, followed by gravel, sand and then the water, it will be successful because the smaller gravel and water will fill in the space around the big rocks. In the same way, when we have a busy life and a lot scheduled already it can be challenging to find time for projects we have been wanting to work on. Now when I fill in my calendar I first pen in the big rocks (for me it is working on a skin care range and getting this website up and running), then the gravel rocks (my weekly work and income sources), then sand (exercise, journal writing, creative activities), and finally water (eating healthy by meal planning, cleaning duties and household jobs). In this way the vase doesn’t get overloaded and I only schedule 1 or 2 big rocks for the week and make sure I give myself focused time to achieve it.
2. Keep things to a minimum.
We only have 12 hours in the day for work and play. Don’t overkill. Unless they’re simple tasks that don’t require much time nor effort, keep it succinct and to the point. It’s easy to get carried away with all the things we want complete, but we have to remember some tasks are larger and take more time and effort. If a task has to be completed over various days, so be it, you want each day to be fulfilling so don’t burn out because you put too much pressure on yourself.
3. Be reasonable.
If you know you won’t be running 10 miles every day, don’t put it on your to do list. However, don’t let fear be an excuse for why you aren’t taking action. If you want to create something, do the required thinking about the steps and get the wheels in motion. You need to tap into your inner power and make whatever you want work. You are in control of your thinking, therefore you are in charge of your actions and whether or not you’ll be meeting the tasks you put on your checklists.
4. Use time-limit deadlines only if it’s achievable.
If you’re starting work later in the day, it can be beneficial to put in time specific cut-off points. My only caution is make sure you’re using common sense – if you only have 3 hours and plan to start and submit a report, it’s probably not a reasonable time-frame. Whereas, if listening to your favourite podcast takes 40 minutes, why not pencil in one hour (say from 9:15am-10:15am) to give yourself breather time between tasks.
Remember the main point of a checklists is to be successful, so set them in a way that gives you fulfilment and wins. We all love winning 🙂
I’d love to hear your strategies and approaches to checklists. If you have some wisdom to share please comment below.